BOISE -- Klein Investigations and Consulting, a private investigator out of Texas, was hired by the Kunz family to find out what happened to DeOrr Kunz Jr. DeOrr was two-years-old when he went missing from a campsite near Leadore last July.
The Klein Investigations team was hired by DeOrr's grandfather, Dennis Kunz. Phillip Klein, the senior civil investigator for Klein Investigations, told KTVB he believes the boy is dead and his mother knows where his body is located. It's an accusation, among others, that got Klein fired by the family this morning.
Phillip Klein and his team of investigators have been looking into the case of the missing toddler since November. They've been up to the campsite where DeOrr Kunz Jr. went missing and say they've interviewed nearly 150 different witnesses. However, Klein says every time the story just didn't add up.
"All the witnesses stories match, but they don't match Vernal's story, so when Vernal is confronted with that he changes the story again, and so that is what has investigators looking at the family," Klein said.
Klein says over the course of the investigation both the toddler's parents, Vernal Kunz and Jessica Mitchell, have been brought in for polygraph tests and failed them every time.
"The first time you can chalk it up to 'OK maybe they're nervous.' The second time 'OK maybe they’re just grieving parents.' But you get passed the third one, where they are asking basic control questions," Klein said.
Klein says the constant lying isn't the only thing that raised red flags, there's physical evidence as well.
"There was a cadaver dog, that nobody knew about, that did hit on a piece of equipment that was at the mountain," Klein said.
Klein says Isaac Reinwand, who was at the campsite the day the toddler went missing, has also come forward with new information.
"This includes verification of some cell phone pings, this includes some ground operation cell phone signal and also some recordings that were made," Klein said.
Klein added there was even one point during the interview process where Jessica came forward.
"Jessica admitted that she knew where the body was, but she wouldn't finish the story," Klein said.
Allen Browning, who's representing both Jessica and Vernal, says he's spoken to his clients a number of times about what happened that day.
"Their story has not changed at all. Not a bit," Browning said.
Browning added that Klein's making these accusations for self-promotion.
"Those statements are outrageous, they really are, and it's time just to end the relationship between Mr. Kunz and Mr. Klein. He's done enough damage already, he doesn't need to do anymore damage," Browning said.
Browning says both Jessica and Vernal are still holding out hope that their son is still alive.
"When Phil Klein instead of trying to find the child goes out making a statement like that it discourages people from keeping their eyes open and maybe, maybe it will turn up that the child was kidnapped and it still alive," Browning said.
If Klein's statements are true, Browning says it should have been handed over to law enforcement.
"If he's got evidence that these people committed a crime, he can give that to the sheriff," Browning said.
Lemhi County Sheriff Lynn Bowerman says he doesn't have a comment at this time and added he's trying to keep his investigation separate from Klein's investigation. Bowerman did say Vernal and Jessica are still suspects.
Klein says although he may have been fired today he has no intention of leaving this case.
Here is the full statement from Dennis Kunz regarding the firing of Klein Investigations:
I, Dennis Deorr Kunz, direct my attorney, Allen Browning, to fire Phillip Klein. I hired Mr. Klein to find my grandson, not to make public statements concerning his opinions in this case.
In fact, when Mr. Klein first made his public statements about this case, I wanted him to meet with my attorney, Allen Browning, so Mr. Klein could inform Mr. Browning what he was doing and why he was making public statements. Mr. Klein refused to allow Mr. Browning to meet with us. After I met with Mr. Klein and he had spoken to me and other members of my family, Mr. Browning came in to meet Mr. Klein. He informed Mr. Klein that Klein was not the spokesman for the family, Mr. Browning was.
Mr. Browning did inform Mr. Klein that he was not the family spokesman at that time and was not to make any public statements about this matter.
Most recently he has, without my permission, publicly accused my son Vernal Deorr Kunz of lying about the disappearance of my grandson. Mr. Klein has accused the mother of my grandson, Jessica Mitchell of "confessing" to having knowledge that my grandson is dead and that she knows the location of his corpse: no such statements were made. He has publicly stated that I and other members of my immediate family are "in denial" of the wrongdoing of my son. Mr. Klein's irresponsible and false statements have resulted in Jessica being terminated from her job, have turned the general public against my family and have generated death threats against my son and Jessica. And for all this trouble Mr. Klein has caused my family, and after Mr. Klein has been paid $20,000, I have no more information concerning the disappearance of my grandson than I had on the day Mr. Klein was hired.
Mr. Klein, you and your company are fired.
Dated this 2nd day of March, 2016.
(Signed) Dennis Deorr Kunz